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Nicotine poisoning of young children increases 800% from 2012-2014; Attorneys General call for federal regulation (NY Attorney General’s website)

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On September 29, 2015, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a press release urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take immediate action to reduce liquid nicotine poisoning among children.  Schneiderman drafted a letter to the FDA that was signed by a total of 33 State Attorneys Generals, asking the FDA to require appropriate warning labels on liquid nicotine, nicotine-containing e-liquids and novel tobacco products such as dissolvables, lotions, gels and drinks. The AG also urged the FDA adopt or establish standards for child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine and novel tobacco products. [GASP note: NJ did not sign the letter.]

In 2014, 3,783 exposures to liquid nicotine nationwide were reported to poison control centers, a sharp increase from previous years. Half of those calls related to poisoning of children under the age of five.  These 2014 figures represent a more than an 800% increase in such exposures. In 2015 (January 1 to June 30), there were 1,732 reported cases of liquid nicotine exposures. Source for 2012, 2014 and 2015 data is at the American Association of Poison Control Centers .

Liquid nicotine is comprised of nicotine extracted from tobacco plus chemical additives. It is used in electronic cigarettes, which convert the liquid nicotine to a vapor inhaled by the user. According to the latest Surgeon General’s report, nicotine exposure during adolescence adversely affects cognitive function and development, potentially resulting in lasting deficits.

In January 2015, New York passed legislation requiring that liquid nicotine be sold in child-proof packaging; in July, following an investigation, Schneiderman announced agreements with four e-liquid manufacturers and retailers whose product was being sold in New York in violation of the new legislation.